Survey: Most practitioners recommend OTC before prescription-only

WASHINGTON — Nearly 98% of primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and pharmacists trust and recommend over-the-counter medicines to their patients, according to a new survey released Wednesday by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. Nearly three-fourths of primary care physicians recommend OTC medicines to relieve symptoms before recommending a prescription treatment.

“This new survey clearly shows that, amid a changing healthcare landscape, consumers and healthcare providers agree that OTC medicines are a trusted first line of treatment to alleviate symptoms,” stated Scott Melville, CHPA president and CEO. “The more consumers educate themselves about their OTC treatment choices — and continue to talk with their physicians and pharmacists about their healthcare options — the better that is for improving the health of all Americans and delivering healthcare savings throughout the healthcare system.”

As many as 84% of consumers say they trust their healthcare provider’s advice on what OTC medicine they should take or give to others. Across a range of illnesses, 8-in-10 consumers use OTC medicines to relieve their symptoms without having to see a healthcare professional and more than two-thirds of consumers prefer to use OTC medicines instead of a prescription when available. This is most prevalent across allergy sufferers — half of all those with allergies readily use OTC medicines to alleviate symptoms. 

The findings expand on data from a January 2012 study by Booz & Co. conducted on behalf of CHPA, which found that OTC medicines save consumers and the healthcare system billions of dollars each year. The study found that for every dollar spent on OTC medicines, the U.S. healthcare system saves $6 to $7 — providing $102 billion in value each year. This includes $25 billion in drug cost savings annually through the use of less expensive OTC medicines over prescription drugs, as well as $77 billion in clinical cost savings from avoided doctor’s office visits and diagnostic testing.

For a white paper based on the findings, click here

The survey was conducted by Nielsen and IMS, on behalf of CHPA.